The Benefits of Proton Therapy to Treat Lung Cancer

Publication: Texas Monthly

November 01, 2023

Proton beam therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that destroys cancerous cells by delivering high-energy proton beams directly to tumors, while minimizing exposure to surrounding tissue.

For patients with lung cancer, proton therapy may be an ideal treatment option because it has the ability to increase radiation dose directly to the tumor, thereby reducing radiation exposure to healthy lung tissue and surrounding critical organs, like the heart. Additional benefits for lung cancer patients include reduced recurrence rates, decreased lung complications, and improved tolerability to simultaneous chemotherapy. It can also be used effectively to treat areas that have previously received radiation therapy.

Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in Texas, with about 14,510 new cases expected to be diagnosed in 2023. Lung cancer is also the leading cause of cancer deaths in Texas.

For cancer patients in Texas and surrounding areas, Texas Center for Proton Therapy offers a highly specialized form of proton therapy known as pencil-beam scanning, which can treat irregularly shaped tumors near sensitive areas, like the lungs. Using an ultra-fine proton beam with pencil-point precision, pencil-beam scanning paints each layer of the tumor with radiation.

Texas Center for Proton Therapy also combines its pencil-beam scanning capability with sophisticated treatment planning algorithms to offer one of the most advanced forms of radiation therapy in the world, called intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT).

"Proton Therapy has fewer side effects and can increase the quality of life for patients during and after treatment," said Jared Sturgeon, M.D., Ph.D., radiation oncologist, Texas Center for Proton Therapy.

"Additionally, proton therapy has been shown in studies to increase a patient's ability to receive other concurrent or sequential therapies, such as chemotherapy and/or surgery."

Proton therapy can also be used to treat patients with breast cancer, brain tumors, head and neck cancers, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, sarcoma, skin cancers, pediatric cancer, and thyroid cancer.

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This article appeared in the November 2023 issue of Texas Monthly.